When you’re struggling with depression, chances are that you see no way out. Your physician may recommend certain medications and other forms of treatments.
However, these treatments may not be effective or you may wish for some other way to get out of the hole that you’re in.
Recently, music therapy has increased as a complementary treatment for depression to help get you out of the confines of the disorder of major depression.
Recently, there has been an increase in choosing from alternative and complementary medicine, or CAM, that has changed the whole landscape of medicine.
Some of these alternative and complementary therapies include: music therapy, meditation, yoga, art, and acupuncture/acupressure.
These are all becoming a major part of common treatments is now found in many of the major medical facilities in the United States.
Origin of Music Therapy
The idea that music can assist in the healing process goes back to the time ofPlato and Aristotle. The more modern idea of music therapy began in 1943 during World War II.
This was during the time when the veterans were returning home from the war shell-shocked, which was the word that was used in the 1940s to describe the condition that we now know as PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder.
These young men were disturbed, unable to function, catatonic, and depressed. In most cases, they ended up institutionalized.
When volunteer societies were created to visit the hospitals that were treating the soldiers as they returned, it became clear that the music was reaching into the souls and awakening these veterans who were suffering from PTSD.
This is when the modern definition of music therapy was first used.
By the year 1950, the National Association for Music Therapy, or NAMT, was founded and music therapy became a discipline.
This association helped to create a board-certification program and grew the industry from under fifty therapists to the thousands we currently have.
In 1998, the NAMT merged with another association advocating for music therapy and formed the AMTA, or American Music Therapy Association.
Now, it is the largest music therapy organization in the world and represents, advocates, and sets the criteria for the music therapists located in the United States of over thirty other countries.
Music Therapy is Healing
Music therapy is defined as using music in order to address functioning of cognitive, emotional, or psychological areas.
When it is done correctly, music therapy has been proven as an effective treatment plan- but it does require that the individual visit a professional music therapist on a regular basis.
While it is true that self-treatment of depression using music can be beneficial, it is not considered to be music therapy.
A music therapist works with individuals who are not able to put their feelings into words by helping them to create sounds to communicate those feelings and to gain access to those feelings so that they will be able to express them nonverbally.
Music Therapy to Treat Depression
When you are struggling with depression, the feelings of sadness, anger, loss, frustration, and hopelessness can cause interference with your life for days, weeks, or even longer- and in many cases require long-term treatment.
In the USA, millions of people are affected by mental disorders including major depressive disorder- known as MDD- and sadly, most of these people are not treated.
There have been many studies that revealed that music therapy is effective for treating depression.
One of these studies involved 79 people between the ages of 18 to 50 who were struggling with depression.
Forty-six of these were given antidepressants, counseling, and psychotherapy. The other 33 were given the same treatment and in addition, 20 sessions of music therapy was added to their treatment program.
After treatment, the participants in this study were followed and results proved that those who did receive the music therapy had fewer depressive symptoms and had an improvement in their overall sense of well-being.
This suggested that music therapy, when used in conjunction with other treatments is effective- especially for those that already have a love for and deep attachment to music.
One particular musician and music therapist, Philip Wesley suffers from severe depression and feels that there have not been enough studies conducted with adults who are mentally ill.
According to him, the research that has been done has not accurately captured all the ways in which individuals benefit from using music therapy.
According to Mr. Wesley, a successful session of music therapy is one in which the individual leaves the session with ideas, tools, and information they have learned about themselves.
In addition, Peter Jampel, a professor of music therapy at New York University Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development states that individuals who struggle with long-term depression can reach their maximum potential through music.
The truth is that when individuals are depressed, they really need a variety of different treatments, including medication, psychotherapy, hospitalization, and even music therapy.
If an individual already enjoys music, they are much more likely to get something out of music therapy.
After all, if music is in your soul and in your blood and it is something that you really love, you are the type of person that is much more likely to be helped by this type of therapy and will be able to find ways that you can return to normal society.
Practicing Music Therapy
Joanne Loewy, founder and director of the Louis Armstrong Center for Music and Medicine at Beth Israel Hospital in New York, explains that music therapy works in different ways for different people.
After all, everyone is different and you should go into this expecting the results that are tailored for you.
You can’t expect to get the same results that another individual did. Still, there is a specific protocol in place that will assess the needs of each individual.
When being evaluated, an individual is observed on the way they listen to or play music, so that the therapist can determine whether or not music therapy will be effective for them.
All of the instruments are used to determine the preference in music of a particular individual as well as their response to a particular sound.
When building a treatment plan, playing instruments, singing, or song writing can be used as the therapy.
These various types of music therapy can help an individual express themselves and to become much more aware of what they are feeling and the reason why they are feeling that way.
Of course, just as with any other therapy, the length of treatment will vary with each person. In some cases, only one session will be needed while others will require years of treatment.
Music therapy is an extremely effective- and inexpensive- way to treat major depression in individuals of all ages- especially in the cases where medication is either not the preferred method of treatment or does not work.